The Best Leaders Have a Contagious Positive Energy

The Importance of Positive Relational Energy In our work, including interviews with thousands of leaders and employees, an upcoming book, and two decades of research on positive leadership, we’ve looked at people in terms of their networks of relationships: communities, organizations, and families. We’ve observed that certain relationships within those networks are extraordinarily life-enhancing and uplifting. The result is extraordinary performance. In particular, there’s usually one person at the center of these networks who’s responsible for most of the forward motion — not to mention well-being — of all the rest. We call them positive energizers.

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The pandemic has taken a significant toll on the well-being and energy of so many. Positively energizing leaders are more crucial than ever. Positive relational energy —the energy exchanged between people that helps uplift, enthuse, and renew them — however, is not the superficial demonstration of false positivity, like trying to think happy thoughts or turning a blind eye to the very real stresses and pressures overloaded employees are experiencing. Rather, it is the active demonstration of values. Numerous studies show that positive energizers produce substantially higher levels of engagement, lower turnover, and enhanced feelings of well-being among employees. In organizations, superior shareholder returns occur, and in some studies, outcomes exceeded industry averages in profitability and productivity by a factor of four or more. Here’s what leaders need to know about positive relational energy, which the authors have found to be the most underutilized yet powerful predictor of leadership and organizational success.

Researchers and leaders have looked for the secret to successful leadership for centuries. Dozens of new books each year promise to deliver the answer. We decided to examine this question empirically, and when we did, we found that the greatest predictor of success for leaders is not their charisma, influence, or power. It is not personality, attractiveness, or innovative genius. The one thing that supersedes all these factors is positive relational energy: the energy exchanged between people that helps uplift, enthuse, and renew them.

Here’s what leaders need to know about positive relational energy, which we’ve found to be the most underutilized yet powerful predictor of leadership and organizational success.

The Importance of Positive Relational Energy

In our work, including interviews with thousands of leaders and employees, an upcoming book, and two decades of research on positive leadership, we’ve looked at people in terms of their networks of relationships: communities, organizations, and families. We’ve observed that certain relationships within those networks are extraordinarily life-enhancing and uplifting. The result is extraordinary performance. In particular, there’s usually one person at the center of these networks who’s responsible for most of the forward motion — not to mention well-being — of all the rest. We call them positive energizers.

Read more at HBR.org

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